Hypercrosslinked polymer microspheres decorated with anion- and cation-exchange groups for the simultaneous solid-phase extraction of acidic and basic analytes from environmental waters

Joan Carles Nadal, Stuart Dargo, Francesc Borrull, Peter A.G. Cormack, Núria Fontanals, Rosa Maria Marcé

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13 Citations (Scopus)
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Mixed-mode ion-exchange sorbents were introduced to improve the selectivity and retention of solid-phase extraction (SPE) sorbents,. Mixed-mode ion-exchange sorbents integrate reversed-phase chemistry with ion-exchange groups to promote favourable interactions with ionic species. Nevertheless, a need to extract analytes with acidic and basic properties simultaneously within the same SPE cartridge led to the introduction of novel amphoteric/zwitterionic sorbents, which incorporate cation- and anion-exchange moieties within the same functional group attached to the polymeric network.

In the present study, the development, preparation and SPE evaluation of two novel hypercrosslinked zwitterionic polymeric sorbents, functionalised with either strong anion-exchange (SAX) and weak cation-exchange (WCX) or weak anion-exchange (WAX) and strong cation-exchange (SCX) groups (namely HXLPP-SAX/WCX and the HXLPP-WAX/SCX), is presented for the simultaneous retention of acidic and basic compounds. The sorbents were prepared by a precipitation polymerisation route which yielded poly(divinylbenzene-co-vinylbenzylchloride) as a precursor polymer; subsequently, the precursor polymer was hypercrosslinked, to increase the specific surface areas and capacities of the sorbents, and then functionalised to impart the zwitterionic character. The HXLPP-SAX/WCX sorbent was decorated with quaternised sarcosine groups and the HXLPP-WAX/SCX sorbent was decorated with taurine moieties. The SPE parameters were optimised to exploit the ionic interactions between compounds and the functional groups. The optimal conditions involve a washing step to remove the compounds retained by hydrophobic interactions, thus increasing the selectivity. The optimised SPE protocol used the quaternised sarcosine-based sorbent followed by liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry, and was applied to determine compounds with acidic and basic properties from environmental samples, such as river water and effluent wastewater samples, with excellent selectivity and matrix effect values below -30% and apparent recovery results ranging from 52% to 105% for most of the compounds. The analytical method was validated for environmental water samples and used in the analysis of samples in which some of the target compounds were found at ng L−1 concentration levels.
Original languageEnglish
Article number462715
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
Early online date29 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2022


  • hypercrosslinked polymers
  • microspheres
  • zwitterionic sorbents
  • solid-phase extraction
  • environmental water samples


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